How Common is Pain During Vaginal and Anal Intercourse?

Our new study addresses pain during vaginal and anal intercourse among a nationally representative study of Americans. The data are from our 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior and have just been published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (infographic below thanks to David Orr). We see, for example, that 30% of women report pain during vaginal sex and about 72% report pain during anal sex. Though pain is less commonly reported by men, doctors, nurses, researchers and educators should pay more attention to men’s experiences of pain during sex, too.  Our data also show that sizable proportions of Americans never even tell their partner when they’re in pain, which of course leaves one’s partner unable to help, to switch positions, to add lubricant, or to avoid that position or kind of thrusting or whatever else in the future…. or even just to be empathetic and give extra kisses and hugs later, you know?

For a reprint of the study, please contact our team at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at


About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at